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Game Preview: Vees Look for a 3-0 Series Lead in Game Three

Season Series

October 7th: Merritt 1 at Penticton 5

October 8th: Penticton 4 at Merritt 3 (OT)

October 21st: Penticton 4 at Merritt 2

November 19th: Merritt 2 at Penticton 3 (OT)

December 30th: Merritt 2 at Penticton 4

January 13th: Penticton 2 at Merritt 3

February 1st: Penticton 4 at Merritt 2

Playoff Schedule

GM 1: Merritt 1 at Penticton 4

GM 2: Merritt 1 at Penticton 4

GM 3: March 20th at Merritt, 7 pm

GM 4: March 21st at Merritt, 7 pm

*GM 5: March 23rd at SOEC, 7 pm

*GM 6: March 25th at Merritt, 7 pm

*GM 7: March 27th at SOEC, 7 pm

* If necessary

The Penticton Vees look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in Game Three tonight at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (NVMA) in Merritt.

The Vees held court on home ice over weekend, winning games One and Two by identical 4-1 scores, and Merritt will be hoping a return home nets them the same success.

In Game Two, the Vees got out to another fast start, as Jamie Armstrong scored just 2:44 into the first period and on just the Vees’ second shot of the game. Duncan Campbell, Taylor Ward and Owen Sillinger also scored in the win and Mat Robson stopped 20 of 21 shots to keep his perfect playoff record intact.

Defensively, you can’t ask for much more from Penticton, as they’ve limited the Cents’ to just two goals through six periods and are averaging just 24 shots against through two games. Merritt has yet to score in the first or second period.

There’s an old adage in hockey that you’re never in trouble in the playoffs until you lose at home. The Cents’ will be embracing that, as they’re 2-0 this post-season at the old barn on Mamette Avenue. They beat West Kelowna 6-2 and 4-3 (in overtime) in games Three and Four in their opening round series. In the regular season the Cents’ were 13-11-1-4 at NVMA; the Vees were 19-8-0-2 on the road in the regular season.

Early on in this series, the Vees are 0-6 on the man-advantage but that shouldn’t be cause for concern, as two of their five power-plays in Game One were abbreviated opportunities and their only man-advantage in Game Two lasted for 38-seconds; Merritt took a penalty inside the final minute.

Penticton likely won’t make any changes to their line-up, as Mat Robson is penciled in as the starter and he’s been terrific. Robson is 2-0 in this series, owning a 1.00 goals-against average and sports a .958 save percentage. Defencemen Sam Rossini, Kenny Johnson and Greg Brydon and forward Taylor Sanheim were scratched in the first two games of the series.

The Vees have welcomed Cassidy Bowes and Massimo Rizzo to the team for the remainder of the playoffs. Bowes and Rizzo both played at the Midget Prep level in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL). Bowes is a 17-year-old forward from Kelowna and played next door at OHA. Rizzo, who’s 15, played at the Burnaby Winter Club and was named the CSSHL Freshman of the Year and Midget Prep MVP.

Merritt did make one change to their line-up in Game Two, swapping defencemen, as Ethan King dressed in place of Michael Van Unen, but they for the most part ran with five defencemen on Saturday. Jacob Berger was the goalie of record on the weekend and is 4-2 in the playoffs, with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

Defensively the Vees have done a terrific job at neutralizing Merritt’s top-line of Brett Jewell, Michael Regush and Tyler Ward. The three have combined for just one assist through two games and all three were held pointless on Saturday. Griffin Mendel and James Miller deserve credit for helping contain Merritt’s top trio, as they’ve had the task of going up against the three Cents’ forwards for the most part. With Merritt being at home, they’ll have the advantage of having the last change and they may try to get their top line away from that Vees’ duo.

Penticton’s top line has been very effective, as Duncan Campbell, Chris Klack and Nicholas Jones have combined for two goals and seven points through two games. Jones has a goal and a pair of assists, Campbell has a goal and an assist and Klack has two helpers. Jones is tied with Gabe Bast for the team scoring lead, as each as three points.

The Vees won three of their four games in Merritt this season, losing just once in the regular season back on January 13th (3-2). In their last trip to they won by a 4-2 score back on February 1st. Despite the smaller confines in Merritt, the Vees don’t have to drastically alter their game plan. The key going into Game Three will be work ethic and execution in the crowded confines of Merritt’s rink.

Vees’ Playoff Scoring

Gabe Bast2-1-3
Nicholas Jones1-2-3
Jamie Armstrong1-1-2
Duncan Campbell1-1-2
Owen Sillinger1-1-2

Centennials’ Playoff Scoring

Tyler Ward7-4-11
Brett Jewell3-3-6
Stephan Seeger3-3-6
Michael Regush2-4-6
Mike Faulkner1-4-5

Tonight’s game can be heard on EZ Rock AM 800 locally, or via the iHeartRadio app on your iPhone, iPad, smartphone and or tablet. The game is also available via the BCHL webcast at www.HockeyTV.com 


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